VILNIUS – Being modern is key when it comes to nuclear deterrence, NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Transformation HQ General Philippe Lavigne said in Vilnius on Thursday.
"Nuclear deterrence is a key topic. When we are talking about nuclear deterrence, we have to be credible, and to be credible, you have to modern," he said after meeting with Lithuania's Chief of Defense Lieutenant General Valdemaras Rupsys. "Being modern is a natural way to be better and credible."
Politico has reported recently that US officials told NATO allies during a closed-door meeting in Brussels this month that the arrival of the upgraded B61-12 air-dropped gravity bomb in Europe, originally slated for next spring, is now planned for December.
Rupsys told reporters that Lavigne and he discussed the security situation in the region during their meeting in Vilnius on Thursday.
"We had the opportunity to discuss the security situation in the region, and the trends and prospects of NATO's military development," the chief of defense said.
"The NATO transformation commander presented his priorities, NATO's newly adopted military concept and its implementation, and NATO's defense planning procedure in the changing security situation, and the development of critical capabilities, taking into account all dimensions of warfare," he said.
According to the lieutenant general, the NATO commander provided guidance on how the Lithuanian Armed Forces should be developed and built up.
In Rupsys' words, Lithuania is currently facing challenges in supplying its armed forces with weapons, as the industry is struggling to meet the demand amid Western countries' intensive support to Ukraine.
"Funding alone is not enough to buy weapons. It is necessary to strengthen the defense industry, which is a really big challenge for a small country like Lithuania," Rupsys said.
"After this visit, the general will have a clearer picture of Lithuania's capabilities and shortcomings in building up its armed forces with the help of the defense industry," he added.
Lavigne said Rupsys and he discussed regional security challenges and solutions.
"Our mission to understand, shape and contest the rapidly evolving security environment has never been more relevant," the general said.
"Today's meeting with you and Defense Ministry authorities was a great opportunity to share our vision and learn on different topics such as escalation dynamics, multi-domain operation," he said.
In Vilnius, Lavigne visited the Military Academy and the NATO Energy Security Centre of Excellence.
This is the NATO commander's first visit to Lithuania. He has previously visited Estonia during an international cyber exercise.